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J Am Chem Soc. 2019 Jan 23;141(3):1359-1365. doi: 10.1021/jacs.8b12150. Epub 2019 Jan 8.

Cooking Chemistry Transforms Proteins into High-Strength Adhesives.

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Department of Chemistry , Purdue University , 560 Oval Drive , West Lafayette , Indiana 47907-2084 , United States.
School of Materials Engineering , Purdue University , Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, 701 West Stadium Avenue , West Lafayette , Indiana 47907-2045 , United States.


In prior generations, proteins were taken from horses and other animals to make glues. Petroleum-derived polymers including epoxies and cyanoacrylates have since replaced proteins owing to improved performance. These modern materials come at a cost of toxicity as well as being derived from limited resources. Ideally, replacement adhesives will be made from benign, cheap, and renewable feedstocks. Such a transition to biobased materials, however, will not occur until similar or improved performance can be achieved. We have discovered that coupling of proteins and sugars gives rise to strong adhesives. An unexpected connection was made between adhesion and Maillard chemistry, known to be at the heart of cooking foods. Cross-linked proteins bonded metal and wood with high strengths, in some cases showing forces exceeding those withstood by the substrates themselves. Simple cooking chemistry may provide a route to future high-performance materials derived from low-cost, environmentally benign components.


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